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Out & About in Cleveland

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American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (ACS) Annual luncheon; 11th Annual National Night Out Against Crime

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On Tuesday, August 1st, we attended American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (ACS) annual luncheon at the City Club in which Ms. Carole Rendon, Former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, was honored as the recipient of the 2017 Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones Public Service Award.

Ms. Rendon served as Assistant United States Attorney, the first woman to hold that position in the Northern District of Ohio, from 2009 to 2016. After U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach stepped down in 2016, Ms. Rendon became our U.S. Attorney for just over a year before she and 45 other U.S. Attorneys appointed by President Barack Obama were requested to resign by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in March, 2017. Thus, at this time, Ms. Rendon is a partner at "BakerHostetler".

During lunch we shared a table with Ms. Linda McCorkle, a concerned Cleveland citizen who was heavily involved with Greater Cleveland Congregations at the time the consent decree was implemented. Also at our table was Mr. Scott M. Hubay, an attorney who advises local political leaders, such as Cleveland City Councilperson Kerry McCormack, on the election laws and Ms. Rachel Pico, a law student at the University of Akron.

The program, itself, started with introductory remarks by Mr. Ryan Babiuch, President of the Northeast Ohio Chapter of ACS, in which noted that Ms. Rendon was the ideal choice to receive this award because of her devotion to public service and the outstanding work that she had done on such matters as the consent decree, voting rights and cyber security while working in the U.S. Attorney's office.

This was following by "reflections from distinguished speakers" who were the Hon. Solomon Oliver, Jr., United States District Court, Northern District of Ohio; Mr. David W. Rowan, Chief Legal Officer, Chief Governance Officer, and Secretary of the Cleveland Clinic; and Mr. Steven M. Dettelbach, Partner at BakerHostetler and former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio regarding the character, devotion and service of Ms. Rendon.

Judge Oliver talked about how Ms. Rendon worked with all sides when implementing the consent decree to ensure that it would be a collaborative effort. He said that he loved her style and her commitment to making sure that the decree worked on behalf of law enforcement as well as for the community. Mr. Rowan spoke of how Ms. Rendon was one of the first to recognize the magnitude of the opioid crisis and helped to establish a real partnership between public and private entities to address the issue of cyber security. Mr. Dettelbach, who in 2016 received the award that Ms. Rendon was receiving at this time, talked about how he was privileged to work with Ms. Rendon twice; in the U.S. Attorney's office and at BakerHostetler. He contended that what made Ms. Rendon so "unique" was that she had the "brains, heart, and spine" to be both a leader and an enforcer of laws even when such action may be unpopular. "No fight is easy and she really cares," said Mr. Dettelbach.

When it was time for Ms. Rendon to accept her award for public service, she said that it meant all the more to her because she was receiving it at the City Club of Cleveland highly regarded as the "Citadel of Free Speech" which is a vital element of the United States. Many of her former colleagues at the U.S. Attorney's office were present and she upheld them as folks who "live and breathe justice and do incredible work each day." She went on to thank those at "BakerHostetler" for being so welcoming and supportive to her. Lastly, but most importantly, she thanked her family for being "my sun, my moon, and my stars!"

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The last section of the program was a "Keynote Conversation" between Ms. Rendon and our friend Ms. Connie Schultz, the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and 2017 recipient of an award from the ACS Columbus Lawyer Chapter that was the equivalent of the one that Ms. Rendon had just received. Together they touched on such topics as how responsible journalism can be a form of public service, how socially conscious millennials are their great promise for the future, the importance of having a supportive family who respects your dedication to your passion and your profession, and the need for citizens to be constantly active especially at this time during the Trump administration.

There was time for a few questions so we asked Ms. Rendon and Ms. Schultz about the recent wave of deportations that has often resulted in families being separated. Ms. Rendon began her answer by indicating that this one hit close to home because her husband, also an attorney, was heavily involved in civil rights issues. She believed, as we do, that the focus should be on apprehending and deporting the undocumented who have committed serious crimes. Ms. Schultz recalled her own experience at the rally that HOLA put together in Painesville the previous week which we were at too. She said that her husband, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown is committed to doing all that he can do to help.

Before the discussion ended, Ms. Schultz praised Ms. Rendon for her humility because, as she noted, she had attended all sorts of award presentations in her tenure but this was the first time that the award recipient had requested that most of the time that would normally have been spent on an acceptance speech instead be used for a community conversation.

From what we heard about Ms. Rendon and from what we observed ourselves, we believe that it was it was totally in character.

Later on Tuesday we tabled on behalf of "Margaret W. Wong and Associates" at Steelyard Commons' 11th Annual "National Night Out Against Crime" where there were probably 50 tables occupied by private businesses, community and religious organizations, and governmental offices at all levels. According to our friend, Ms. Chia-Min Chen, who always arranges for us to table there, it seemed like there were a lot more people at this event this year than there were in 2016. .

Our own table was located between those of "Proyecto Latina" at the "Domestic Violence Advocacy Center" staffed by Ms. Vanessa Rivera and Ms. Alicia Carrizo who are bilingual advocates at the Center and "New Beginnings Ministries" where we got to meet Pastor Greg McCurry and Ms. Terrie Sylvester, one of its ministers.

We had no problem with occasionally leaving our table alone for a little while to watch the opening ceremonies and performances by several musical groups. As far as opening ceremonies, Mr. Nate Ortiz acted as emcee and we listened to short speeches by Mr. Mitch Schneider and Mr. Evan Berliner of "First Interstate Properties" without whom this annual event would not be taking place in Steelyard Commons. Others speaking were Commander Thomas Stacho and Captain Keith Sulzer of the Cleveland Police Department 2nd District; Cleveland Fire Chief Angelo Calvillo; Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson; and Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley who also spoke earlier at the ACS luncheon honoring Ms. Rendon.

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Concerning the musical performances, we especially liked the "Refresh Collective" a rap group with a genuinely upbeat air about them combined with a positive message. For instance, one rap song had verses stating that they wanted to move Cleveland away from being a "a rust belt city" and turn it into a "trust belt city" instead. Mr. Sean Nunley was its lead performer even though he was confined to a wheelchair. He proved to be a very inspirational guy who readily admitted to the youngsters present that he was in a wheelchair because he was shot while engaging in illegal activities. Nevertheless, he turned his life around and wanted others to know his story so that they do not "go down the same path" as he did for a long time.

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While we were at our table, we gave out letter openers and talked to a person who might employ the services of "Margaret W. Wong and Associates" to obtain an I-130 visa for a relative wishing to immigrate to the United States from an African country.

We also talked to a person wearing a "Twilight Zone" t-shirt who stopped by our table. We told him that we watch "Twilight Zone" episodes all of the time on "Netflix" but he countered that if we watched it "all of the time" then we wouldn't be there now. He observed that we were associated with Ms. Margaret W. Wong-so he thought for a minute before he said, "Well, Wong is never wrong!" before he moved on.

 

By:

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC